SCOUTING THE GREYHOUNDS
The Maryland-based Loyola U started off the season with four wins (two in overtime), before losing to UConn. With four of those five contests on the road, the 'Hounds already have an idea on how to battle in hostile environments. It played the Huskies well, trailing by just three points on several occasions int he second half before losing by ten.
Loyola's unquestioned go-to guy is Dylon Cormier (G, Sr., 6-3). He;s averaging 28.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and has taken 35% of his team's shots this year. He ranges all over the floor on the offensive end, and is just as likely to drive to the hoop and draw a foul as he is to lauch a three-pointer. He's not just a jack-it-up guy, though -- once shots are one their way, he hits the glass, and has 24 offensive rebounds. among his 37 retrievals. That's more than twice as many as any of his teammates.
Comier gets scoring support from Jarred Jones, who comes off the bench to aveage 12.8 points per outing. A bigger guard, Jones (So., 6-7) also hits the glass, and has 5.8 rebounds per game.
Six other players combine to form Loyola's eight-man rotation, and there's a mix of contributions from each.
Starter Eric Laster (G, So., 6-6) averages 9.8 points per game, and is deadly from three-point range. He picks his spots well from distance, and is hitting 64.7% of his tries on the season. Fellow backcourt starter R.J. Williams (G, Jr., 5-9) is the designated playmaker, dishing out 24 assists while also adding 7.6 points per game to the Greyhound attack.
Two other backups at guard also get time, including Tyler Hubbard (So., 6-2) and Denzel Brito Jr., 6-2). Hubbard is very efficient, scoring 5.4 points in just 13 minutes of action per outing, while Brito adds 3.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.
If that sounds like a lot of guards, you're paying attention. The Greyhounds have just five forwards and no centers listed on their roster, and of those, only two play significant minutes. Jordan Latham (Sr., 6-9) averages right at 4.5 points and rebounds per game, while Franz Rassman provides mostly rebounding and defensive support in his time on the floor.
West Virginia has to rebound the shortish Greyhounds, who play three and four guard lineups exclusively, right?
As Mountaineer fans know, not necessarily. Rebounding has been an issue no matter the size of the opposition this year, and there have been several breakdowns provided of those problems. In this game, there's another group that falls under the spotlight -- the swing guards.
7:00 PM E
WVU 5-2, 0-0
LU 4-1, 0-0
WVU - 123
LU - 145
Point guard Juwan Staten has been very good in this regard, grabbing 5.3 rebounds to rank second on the team. He needs help, though, expecially from Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, both of whom need to make sure they don't leak away from the defensive rim in transition before the ball is secured. With Loyola's guards, led by Cormier, providing so much of their production on the boards, West Virginia's backcourt players must keep them off the glass in order to put this game in the win column.
The Greyhounds aren't a great shooting team, so if WVU can play respectable defense and prevent second chance points, it should be in good shape to record its sixth win of the season. The Mountaineers' help defense will be challenged, as Loyola does drive the ball a good deal and gets to the foul line consistently, but if its focus is in place it should send the West Virginia fans in attendance home happy.
West Virginia guard Eron Harris said a players only meeting was conducted after the Wisconsin game to "throw some things out on the table and set some team goals". While the importance of such meetings is sometimes overrated, such a get-together might be another
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Loyola takes great advantage of its time at the free throw line. Of it's eight top players, only Jordan Latham (5-10, 50%) makes fewer than two-thirds of his attempts. Jarred Jones (81.8%) and R.J. Williams (80%), lead a parade of strong shooting Greyhounds at the stripe. Loyola has gone to the free throw line an average of 29.0 times per game this season while converting 20.4 per game. More than 26% of their points come from the line.
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A year ago, WVU head coach Bob Huggins often lamented the number of brian-dead turnovers committed by his team, noting that he'd rather they just throw the ball up in the stands so that they would have a chance to get back and set up on defense. This year, WVU mostly throws the ball to teammates, depriving Huggins of one of his signature lines. West Virginia is averaging just 9.7 turnovers per game, putting it near the top of the NCAA stat line. Only 11 of the 351 Division I teams have a lower per game turnover average than the Mountaineers.
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Loylao head coach G.G. Smith is the son of current Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith. He was an assistant at Loyola for the past six years before being tabbed as the head coach seven months ago.